This guy is a Bobby Heck Special. Projectable? Check! Athletic? Check! Clean Mechanics? Check! Curveball? Check! Feel for a change-up? Check! Pitchability? Check Mate! Walker Weickel has everything that fits the Bobby Heck mold. Weickel stands 6-6 and weighs just 205, so there is some mass that can be added to his frame, although he doesn't look overly lanky. But, with his height and already a frame that looks strong, he can put on some good weight and possibly a workhorse type pitcher. But, it's not really his frame that really stands out, it's his great arm speed.
Mechanically, he looks pretty clean. The high arm slot comes with a little bit too much arm abduction, but doesn't look terrible. Like I said, the arm speed is great and his arm wrap looks a little violent at times, but is likely a product of the arm speed. I wouldn't call it a concern. He has a high leg kick and a good stride that allows him to land very balanced on his plant leg and can get it a defensive position. He is athletic, so he repeats the delivery and he has a full arm circle so his timing is pretty consistent and control isn't wild.
His fastball sits in the low 90's, and I've seen some reports saying as low as 89-91, but most agree with 91-94. While it's not eye popping, it is above average for a HS kid. He doesn't muscle it up there as he has that great arm speed and really hits those velocities with ease. With arm speed like his, and a projectable frame, he could add a few ticks in pro baseball. Because of his high 3/4 arm slot and possibly even considered over-the-top, he has a great downward plane that makes the pitch play up, despite not having a lot of movement. I'm always reminded of a friend of mine that played Division I ball that said he hated facing really tall pitchers because all you do is pound their fastball into the ground. With Weickel's height and high release point, he is that kind of pitcher.
With his arm slot, it's not surprising to see his next best pitch is a curveball. He has good 12-6 break but the pitch can get a loopy at times. It's a work in progress, but the pitch flashes plus potential. He obviously has work to do to refine the pitch, and has come a long way in improving his arm speed on the pitch as it was a little slower on the curve than the fastball this time last year.
He has a feel for a change-up, and it flashes above-average to plus potential. He has good speed separation but lacks great command on it right now. As things stand right now, it's a distant third pitch by most reports, but the potential is there.
You'll get tired of reading this, but with HS guys, failure to reach the majors is possible. But, his floor as a major-league pitcher is probably as a groundball specialist. The plane for his fastball is great, which could even land him in a set-up role. It would also depend on which secondary develops more. Likely, it's the curve which could lead to a lot of groundouts as well. I don't expect him to be an absolute strikeout phenom though.
It's a stretch to say he has the ceiling of an Ace, but a very good #2 pitcher is a nice tag to put on him. It's hard to throw a real good slider from his arm slot, which is what he would likely need with all of his other pitches maxing out their potential to be an Ace. But, three above-average to plus pitches will get the job done. And, for young guys like him, it's not far fetched to suggest adding a fourth pitch, but for him a cutter is the most likely pitch.
Projected Draft Round
Weickel has been mocked as high as a top 15, but will likely be a late rounder with a small chance of reaching the supplemental round. He definitely won't reach the 2nd round, in which he'd be a steal in.
Will he sign?
He doesn't look like a signability risk. He'll likely be easier with the higher he's drafted. The new rules make it a little more difficult to sign him if he slides, but I don't see him sliding due to signability risks.
College Commitment: University of Miami (FL)
Bibliography after the jump